Menopause, Nutrition & Lifestyle

How to Choose the Best Iron Supplement

by Nikki Warren on Jul 09, 2024


Iron is a critical nutrient that plays an essential role in maintaining good health. Despite its importance, iron deficiency remains a common problem, especially among women, vegetarians, and those with heavy periods.


We're diving into some key aspects of iron supplementation, providing you with practical information and solutions to help you optimise your iron levels effectively.


Iron deficiency


Iron deficiency is a condition that arises when your body doesn’t have enough iron to produce adequate levels of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body. This deficiency can lead to anaemia, a condition marked by a reduced number of red blood cells or haemoglobin levels.


Symptoms of low iron


Iron deficiency can manifest in various ways, and recognising the symptoms early can help you address the issue promptly. Common symptoms of low iron include:


  1. Fatigue: Persistent tiredness and a lack of energy, even after a full night's sleep.

  2. Pale skin: A noticeable paleness, especially in the face, gums, and the inside of the lower eyelids.

  3. Shortness of breath: Feeling breathless after minimal exertion.

  4. Weakness: Generalised weakness and difficulty in performing everyday tasks.

  5. Headaches and dizziness: Frequent headaches or feeling lightheaded.

  6. Cold hands and feet: Experiencing a constant chill in your extremities.

  7. Brittle nails and hair loss: Nails that break easily and hair thinning or falling out.


Common causes of iron deficiency include:


  1. Inadequate dietary intake: Not consuming enough iron-rich foods, especially if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

  2. Increased iron needs: Pregnancy, heavy menstrual periods, and growth spurts in teenagers can all increase the body's demand for iron.

  3. Poor absorption: Conditions like coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease can interfere with the absorption of iron from food.

  4. Blood loss: Chronic blood loss from gastrointestinal conditions, heavy periods or frequent blood donations can deplete iron stores.


Addressing low iron typically involves dietary changes, such as incorporating more iron-rich foods like lean meats, dried apricots and peaches, beans, lentils, and spinach. Iron supplements are also commonly recommended to quickly boost iron stores although if you have an iron deficiency, you should see your doctor.


How long do iron supplements take to work?


One of the most common questions about iron supplements is how long they take to work. The timeframe for seeing noticeable improvements varies depending on your current level of iron in the body and individual health factors. Generally, it can take about 2 to 3 weeks to start feeling better after beginning an iron supplement regimen. However, it can take up to 2 to 3 months to boost iron stores in the body.


Consistency is key. Taking your iron supplement daily will help ensure the best results. It’s also important to have regular blood tests to monitor your iron levels and have your healthcare practitioner adjust your supplementation accordingly.  


Can iron supplements make you constipated?


Another common concern is whether iron supplements can cause constipation. Yes, some people may experience constipation as a side effect of taking iron supplements, especially when taking iron during pregnancy.


Iron bisglycinate is better absorbed and tolerated than other forms of iron such as ferrous sulphate or ferrous fumarate, causing less gastric upset. NaturoBest chose to use this form of iron in our iron and choline supplement, as the patented Ferrochel®. 


To minimise this issue, consider the following strategies:


  1. Choose a gentle formulation: Look for iron supplements designed to be easy on the stomach, that also include vitamin C, folinic acid and vitamin B12, co-factors that enhance iron absorption and can help mitigate gastrointestinal side effects.

  2. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your digestive system moving smoothly.

  3. Increase fibre intake: Incorporate more fibre-rich foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, to support healthy digestion.


When to take iron supplements


Timing can significantly impact the effectiveness of iron supplements. Here are some tips on the best times to take them:


  1. On an empty stomach: Iron supplements are best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach. However, if this causes stomach upset, you can take them with a small amount of food.

  2. With vitamin C: Taking your iron supplement with a source of vitamin C, such as orange juice or a vitamin C supplement, can enhance absorption.

  3. Avoid certain foods: Calcium, caffeine, and certain high-fibre foods can interfere with iron absorption from food. Ferrochel® does not interfere with the absorption of other nutrients such as zinc, so you don't have to avoid consuming these around the time you take your iron supplement.

  4. Consistent timing: Take your iron supplement at the same time each day to establish a routine and ensure consistent absorption.


By following these guidelines, you can maximise the benefits of your iron supplement and improve your overall iron levels more effectively.


Iron deficiency is a common yet manageable condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. By recognising the symptoms, understanding the causes, and knowing the best practices for supplementation, you can take proactive steps towards improving your iron levels and overall health.


Remember, addressing iron deficiency not only helps you feel more energetic and vibrant but also supports critical functions like haemoglobin synthesis and brain health.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.